Laboratory simulation of cloud processing of three model dust types with distinct Fe-content (Moroccan dust, Libyan dust and Etna ash) and reference goethite and ferrihydrite were conducted in order to gain a better understanding of natural nanomaterial inputs and their environmental fate and bioavailability. The resulting nanoparticles (NPs) were characterised for Fe dissolution kinetics, aggregation/size distribution, micromorphology and colloidal stability of particle suspensions using a multi-method approach. We demonstrated that the: (i) acid-leachable Fe concentration was highest in volcanic ash (1 mMg− 1 dust) and was followed by Libyan and Moroccan dust with an order of magnitude lower levels; (ii) acid leached Fe concentration in the < 20 nm fraction was similar in samples processed in the dark with those under artificial sunlight, but average hydrodynamic diameter of NPs after cloud-processing (pH ~ 6) was larger in the former; iii) NPs formed at pH ~ 6 were smaller and less poly-disperse than those at low pH, whilst unaltered zeta potentials indicated colloidal instability; iv) relative Fe percentage in the finer particles derived from cloud processing does not reflect Fe content of unprocessed dusts (e.g. volcanic ash > Libyan dust). The common occurrence of Fe-rich “natural nanoparticles” in atmospheric dust derived materials may indicate their more ubiquitous presence in the marine environment than previously thought.